This just happened, so it is a quick vignette which I wanted to put here as I believe it will fit in to the theme perfectly.
There are difficulties and sometimes they are very difficult. I actually do talk about them on tinygracenotes fairly often but since it is in the context of relating to what someone else is asking, perhaps that does not stand out the way it needs to. In this blog, we want to have our stories show that things are sometimes difficult and sometimes very difficult, and yet we live lives.
Yesterday. No, the day before yesterday.
It had been a day of difficulties at the airport. The flight changed gates three times (gratitude shout-out to the airline professionals who walked me through all this!) and they said they were sorry it was an hour late. In the second leg of the flight, someone sat in the middle seat and kept touching me softly even though I was scunching into the windowwall so hard my muscles were crampling into shaky things. At least they didn't have time to randomly change any more stuff.
I arrived at the hotel at a little after six. My watch, which I look at a lot, but not always helpfully, has alarms and special markers. I have time agnosia. The conference was starting at six and the ending of when you could register was at seven, something like that. I checked into the room (where also others would join me, but I felt kind of responsible for them, so I couldn't flee straight there to make up the time without checking in).
That was a good thing, because the conference area was very far away from the area where you sleep, which took me a long time to find even though the lovely registration fellow deliberately gave me a room that is easy to find. Not sure if getting lost all the time is a Thing, but I have that too.
It took me even longer to find the conference area, despite the signage. I do not know how long, because my impression of time passing by is not accurate. But it was long enough that I was aware it was possible I would miss out on conference registration. I was getting very stressed out, panic alert.
Finally, I found the right place. There were some signs on the various rooms for the conference, Society for Disability Studies, but it was like a ghost town. Had I really been that late? I walked around trying to find the room people were in for the reception.
Also, I melted down.
Couldn't find anyone.
Then I think I started walking around saying "Help? Help?" rather quietly and probably forlornly, not knowing what else to do.
The manager of the conference space, a very kind man, found me, and somehow worked out that I was here for the disabilities conference rather than the business conference he was also orchestrating. He took me into his office and showed me that he was making more signs.
With great kindness and delicacy, he let me know the conference didn't begin that day, but the following day.
My calendar reading skills, just as lacking in excellence as my clock reading skills (coupled with my intense anxiety knowing precisely how liable I am to miss things or hurt people's feelings because of these problems) had apparently gotten me there a day early.
Great thanks to the kind facilities manager, who did not make me feel more foolish than I made my own self feel. However, I was not able to articulate my great thanks very articulately, of course, having only just then become unmolten. I think I said, "You are very good." But he understood, and seemed pleased, and I made my way back to the sleeping part of the hotel (getting lost a bit, as I do).
After having finally managed back to my room I melted down again thinking about it. I am a professor at a conference and if your child is Autistic you may be able to imagine this scenario with some accuracy, because I am like your child.
Here is the next part:
My beloved Layenie popped up in chat on the computer. I miss her very much when we are apart. She read my typing about this horrendous story and concluded that even though it was by accident, it was clever to get to the conference early because now I knew where the action was going to be and I no longer had to worry about that. I could spend the morning doing what I liked instead of stressing out. She was right. The next day which I think was yesterday turned out much better and a lot of fun.
We do have impairments, and when we say we also have strengths and are happy to be ourselves and live our lives we do not mean to say that isn't so. But I have to say for me, having unconditional love and support sure does make it easier to "deal with issues" that may come up, such as repeated gate-changing panic, not knowing what day it even is, and melting down in public. Argh.
Thanks for listening,
Ib (aka tinygracenotes)